Having given up his second government post, Gogol was now teaching history in a boarding school for girls. In he was appointed assistant professor of medieval history at St.
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Petersburg University, but he felt inadequately equipped for the position and left it after a year. Meanwhile, he prepared energetically for the publication of his next two books, Mirgorod and Arabeski Arabesques , which appeared in A great comedy , The Government Inspector mercilessly lampoons the corrupt bureaucracy under Nicholas I.
Having mistaken a well-dressed windbag for the dreaded incognito inspector, the officials of a provincial town bribe and banquet him in order to turn his attention away from the crying evils of their administration. Yet the hue and cry raised by the reactionary press and officialdom was such that Gogol left Russia for Rome , where he remained, with some interruptions, until The atmosphere he found in Italy appealed to his taste and to his somewhat patriarchal—not to say primitive—religious propensity. The religious painter Aleksandr Ivanov, who worked in Rome, became his close friend. It was in Rome, too, that Gogol wrote most of his masterpiece, Dead Souls.
Chichikov, the hero of the novel, is a polished swindler who, after several reverses of fortune, wants to get rich quick. The landowners are only too happy to rid themselves of the fictitious property on which they continue to pay taxes until the next census. The sad conditions of Russia, in which serfs used to be bought and sold like cattle, are evident throughout the grotesquely humorous transactions. The landowners, one more queer and repellent than the last, have become nicknames known to every Russian reader.
Gogol, however, began to see his leading role in a perspective of his own. Having witnessed the beneficent results of the laughter caused by his indictments, he was sure that God had given him a great literary talent in order to make him not only castigate abuses through laughter but also to reveal to Russia the righteous way of living in an evil world.
Unfortunately, having embarked upon such a soul-saving task, Gogol noticed that his former creative capacity was deserting him. He worked on the second part of his novel for more than 10 years but with meagre results. In drafts of four chapters and a fragment of the fifth found among his papers, the negative and grotesque characters are drawn with some intensity, whereas the virtuous types he was so anxious to exalt are stilted and devoid of life. This lack of zest was interpreted by Gogol as a sign that, for some reason, God no longer wanted him to be the voice exhorting his countrymen to a more worthy existence.
This he did in his ill-starred Bybrannyye mesta iz perepiski s druzyami ; Selected Passages from Correspondence with My Friends , a collection of 32 discourses eulogizing not only the conservative official church but also the very powers that he had so mercilessly condemned only a few years before. He increased his prayers and his ascetic practices; in he even made a pilgrimage to Palestine, but in vain. Despite a few bright moments he began to wander from place to place like a doomed soul. Finally he settled in Moscow, where he came under the influence of a fanatical priest, Father Matvey Konstantinovsky, who seems to have practiced on Gogol a kind of spiritual sadism.
Ordered by him, Gogol burned the presumably completed manuscript of the second volume of Dead Souls on February 24 February 11, Old Style , Ten days later he died, on the verge of semimadness. Click here Would you like to report this content as inappropriate?
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Orlov; as well as Aleksandr Herzen and Nikolai Ogarev were widely known and show an implicit familiarity with those of Uieir west European contemporaries. For brief summaries, see Borovoi, Kredit i banki Rossii , 98—, —55, —47, — I am indebted to an anonymous Slavic Review reader for this succinct phrasing. Borovoi's summaries make clear the fact that the question of credit was intimately associated with the question of serfdom in the minds of Russian intellectual leaders from the early nineteenth century on.
Of particular interest in this connection is the economic work of the pseudo—Decembrist, Nikolai Turgenev, who concluded his Essay on the Theory of Taxes widi the following proclamation: The improvement of the system of credit will go hand in hand widi the improvement of public representation [sistema predstavitel'stva narodnogo]. Moscow , , Such a vogue, of course, was characteristic of Russian culture from at least the age of Catherine the Great. London , , —6. While I am currendy developing a more detailed treatment elsewhere, suffice it to say here that the appearance and content of Pososhkov's work provide further evidence of an implicit association in the minds of early nineteenth—century Russians between aspects of commerce, credit, taxation, and the institution of serfdom.
For the Russian text, see Pososhkov , I. I am indebted to David Herman of the University of Virginia for bringing this important text to my attention.
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Hirschman , Albert O. Susanne Fusso has discussed Nozdrev's lying as a spontaneous and creative phenomenon, linked to the health and vitality of his character, and contrasted to Chichikov's carefully planned fabrications. Fusso, Designing Dead Souls , 45— Sobakevich's consistency in assigning a labor function to each of the serfnames he is preparing to sell, a fact noted by Zeldin , Jesse in Nikolai Gogol's Quest for Beauty: An Exploration into His Works Lawrence , , Prince Alexandres Mavrokordatos — , Theodoras Kolokotronis — , Andreas Miaoulis — , and Konstantinos Kanaris — were all participants in the Greek struggle for liberation against the Turks.
Peter I's willful changing of the calendar from the Orthodox to the Julian in order to bring it into conformity with European temporality is seen as analogous to the madman's arbitrary diary datings, not to mention his delusions of grandeur. See Holquist's introduction to Dostoevsky and the Novel Princeton, Bagration died in the battle of Borodino, which slowed but did not halt Napoleon's advance on Moscow. Logos and the Russian Word Evanston , , — , esp.
There is ambiguity in the Russian sentence because of the peculiar combination of u vas , which suggests the personal, and chelovecheskaia , which suggests the general.